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Poor Man’s Kitchen: Cocktails From Cans Of Nonsense You Have Lying Around

Poor Man's Kitchen: Cocktails From Cans Of Nonsense You Have Lying Around

I was making salsa – because poor guys can’t afford $4 or $5 for a jar of salsa and anyway you can make better salsa at home for about a buck – when I had an epiphany. I use canned tomatoes to make salsa, because lazy and besides, it works better. Canned tomatoes are packed in tomato juice, so there’s always juice left over. I don’t drink a lot of tomato juice. Who does?

Salsa making is thirsty work. It occurred to me that the left over juice could be put to good use. A little Worcestershire sauce, some Cholula, a pinch of ground celery seed, some black pepper, a little bit of pickle juice – yeah, pickle juice, – a healthy dose of vodka, garnished with a pickle spear, lots of ice and bang, zoom, you’ve got a tasty Bloody Mary on the cheap. Being lazy as well as cheap, I mixed it up right in the can.

As I was enjoying my tasty Bloody Mary, I looked through my kitchen for other stuff that could be turned into alcoholic beverages. There were the usual orphans that somehow sneak into people’s pantries and sit unused for years. There’s that can of cranberry sauce I forgot to use on Thanksgiving, next to the pumpkin pie filling for the pie that was never made and the french fried onions for the green bean casserole that never came to pass. Clam juice? When did I buy clam juice? More importantly, why? There were cans of pears and peaches, pineapple, mangoes, raisins, a can of corn, a jar of chutney, some Mandarin orange wedges, cherries, pickles, pepper rings, smoked oysters, anchovies, various jams and jellies and peanut butter, all unopened.

Such a waste. The answer was obvious: throw a poor guy’s cocktail party, use my friends as guinea pigs and better yet, have them bring the booze; use up all of the stuff sitting unused and get schnockered at the same time, all for next to nothing.

The fruit stuff is easy to make into cocktails, but the other stuff, well, that was going to require some thunkin’. I headed to the bar to do some serious research. Poor guys always have friends who are bartenders, because free drinks. My bartender buddy looked at the list of orphaned ingredients and said, “Dude, there are real cocktail recipes for pretty much all of this stuff.” She started rattling off recipes. I took notes. She also told me about a website where you could look up drink recipes by ingredient, Bar None Drinks, which was a good thing because I suck at taking notes.

After sifting through eleventy-eleven recipes and coming up with a few of my own, it was time for some serious drinking with a group of friends. They were all up fore the drinking part. I was the only idiot who had to crawl from the wreckage and try to put it all together into a post. Here’s the recipes and results…

Poor Guy’s Mai Tai

1 can of pineapple
1 teaspoon allspice (or a mix of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg)
1 can Mandarin oranges, with syrup
1 can mangoes with syrup
2 tblspn chutney
4 oz dark rum
4 oz light rum
Juice of one lime

In a blender, add as much ice as possible, blend on high for 30 seconds. Reserve a 4 chunks (or rings) of pineapple and 4 Mandarin orange wedges to use as garnish, along with a cherry. Serves 6

This recipe is hard to screw up. You can use pretty much any canned fruit in pretty much any combination and end up with a tasty cocktail.

Acapulco Clam Digger (From Bar None)

1 1/2 oz. Tequila
3 oz. Tomato Juice
3 oz. Clam Juice
3/4 tbsp. Horseradish
1 splash(es) Lemon Juice
Worcestershire Sauce
Tabasco Sauce

This cocktail is surprisingly tasty, but it’s not for anyone who doesn’t like seafood or shellfish.

Dirty Dry Pickle-Tini

3 oz vodka
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1 oz pickle juice

Add ingredients to a shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously for 30 seconds, strain into glass and garnish with french fried onion rings and pickle slices.

The martini drinkers in the crowd loved it. The umbrella drink drinkers didn’t.

Viuda Fabricante (Widow Maker, original)

2 oz clam juice
2 oz tomato juice
2 oz tequila
A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
a few dashes of hot sauce
Garnish with smoked oysters and anchovy

Our tasters preferred this cocktail over the Acapulco Clam Digger.

Low Tide Toonie (original)

1 oz clam juice
2 oz vodka
Dash of Worcestershire
Dash of hot sauce
Garnish with slice of lemon, smoked oysters

Too strong for some, but very tasty.

Poor Guy’s Peanut Butter Cup (original)

2 oz Kahlua
1 oz vodka
1 tblsp smooth peanut butter
1 tblsp chocolate sauce
1 oz half & half

Blend until smooth.

Hey, you got peanut butter on my chocolate… Everybody likes chocolate and peanut butter. This one was a big hit.

Cranberry Gin Fizz (original)

3 oz. Gin
2 tbsp. Cranberry Sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1 oz. of pancake syrup
1 Egg White
1/2 tsp allspice (or mix of nutmeg cinnamon and ginger or pumpkin pie seasoning mix)
Club soda

Combine all ingredients except soda water in blender with ice, blend on high until creamy and foam rises. Pour into glass leaving a little room at the top, then top off with club. Garnish with slice of lemon.

Most of our tasters had never had a true gin fizz. They loved the creamy texture and the tongue tingle from the seltzer.

Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie-Eyed (original)

2 heaping tblspns pumpkin pie filling
2 oz dark rum
2 oz light rum
2 oz strong coffee, sugared
1 oz Half & half
Whipped cream
Graham cracker

Combine pumpkin, rum, coffee and half & half, blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a sauce pan over medium heat and heat to just below boiling. Pour into glasses, top with whipped cream and place a graham cracker upright in the whipped cream.

Basically a deconstructed pumpkin pie, this one was the group favorite.

Rum Raisin Shake

1 cup of vanilla ice cream
4 oz dark rum
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup pancake syrup
1 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning mix

Combine ingredient in blender with ice, blend until smooth.

Ice cream drinks are always popular, and this one is no exception.

Apricot Brandy (family recipe)

1 liter of vodka
Dried apricots
1/2 pound of rock candy

This one must be prepared in advance. It’s not really a brandy, but it is a very tasty liqueur and best of all it’s really cheap compared to those hoity-toity real liqueurs.

Fill a wide mouth 2 liter bottle about halfway with dried apricots. Add rock candy, then vodka. Cover tightly and let it sit until the rock candy is dissolved. This can take anywhere from a week to several months. Once the sugar is dissolved, it’s ready for drinking.

We wanted to try a bunch more recipes, but everyone was too besotted to go on. The rest of the recipes will have to wait for another time. But you get the idea. Now go to your kitchen, find the stuff you never use and start mixing. Let us know what you come up, good or bad.

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  • maman

    Oh dear god. Like I need more cocktail ideas…

  • Mojopo

    Brilliant! Bookmarked.

  • zedbot

    Genius!

  • John Avignone

    Dang, I must have been hungover. I left the raisins out of the rum raisin shake. Add about a half cup after blending, stir.

  • calliecallie

    Awesome. When you figure out how to cocktail mackerel fillets, spam, or capers, please post some more.